NEW BRAIN NEARING THE END

Wow, you guys.  Another fantastic experience.  I feel so . . . well, I don’t know what other word to use but . . .blessed.  This has been two projects in a row that have filled me with such joy and casts I would chew tacks for.    . . .     . . .   . . . okay perhaps tacks is a little strong but certainly eat beef jerky for or jello  (bleazch!)  AAAAnyway, it’ been amazing.  We have two more shows.  It’s Saturday, Feb. 28 at 5:35 before our second last show.   I have remained awed by Steven Gallagher.  He has taken this character and made him so flawed and human and funny and touching.

And as for the show itself, I don’t know the last time I’ve gotten so many e-mails from people – stranger and friends – who loved the show and just had to drop a line.  And no I don’t mean they wanted to tell me how wonderful I am. (though they may have occasionally dropped some comment to that effect, I won’t lie)  But they wanted to share how genuinely moved they were by the show.  On a personal note, I’m really glad that people seemed to like my  . . . well, break-down scene.  That scene has been so hard to pull out every night and I’m always so afraid of being fake or cheesy or  . . . well, just shitty and pretendy.   But it seems to be working and that was the only so-so part of the show for me.  So I need to just keep trusting it for the next two shows .  Then onwards and upwards.

After the show, I have 3 weeks off in which I’ll be doing SING OUT, LOUISE – the big all-star fundraiser for  Buddies In Bad Times Theatre on Monday, Mar. 9 and RAINBOWS AND SONGBIRDS, which is my own cabaret.  I’m excited.  I had a great rehearsal with Wayne Gwillim yesterday and I think it’s going to be fun as hell.  I hope you all can make it.

Also, I’ll have some more news in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

CABARET #3

Hey y’all.  So I’m finally doing my 3rd cabaret.  This time though, it’s not at Statler’s.  I’ll be doing it at Buddies in Bad Times cabaret space Tallulah’s Cabaret on March 16th at 8:00.  All tickets are $15.
it’s called “RAINBOWS AND SONGBIRDS.   A combo evening of a classic Harold Arlen creation retold and a tribute to the great ladies of the stage and concert worlds.”

I even managed to create a bit of a poster for it too.  Come on out and have a drink and some fun with me and Wayne.

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Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  

A NEW BRAIN OPENING NIGHT

So . . . it’s 2:19 am on Feb. 14 and I got home about an hour ago from our opening night of A New Brain.  It’s been a bizarre couple of days.  Allow me to bring you up to speed.  We had our dress rehearsal on Wednesday night.  It was . . . um . . . rocky.  There were costume issues and sound issues and a lot of brain farts (no pun intended) – most of which were pretty funny.

Then we had a great rehearsal on Thursday afternoon,where we cleared up a lot of things.  That night was our one and only preview.  Eek!!   (Eek that there’s only one, not cause it was bad)  It was really wild to have the show in front of people for the first time.  Just to see what confuses them, amuses them, excites them.  It’s such a strange show, y’all.  It takes the viewers on such an odd ride.  It’s non-linear yet does go in it’s own straight line.  It’s funny but not knee-slappy but it is outrageous at points.  It’s not a drama but there moments that I find heart-aching.  Now, we also ended up having some sound issues.  People think doing a show accoustically (without microphones) is so much easier but there is still a problem balancing the band and vocals.  We don’t want to be overwhelmed by the band but we want to feel enveloped and buoyed by them.  And we want the audience to feel that the band is present but not that they can’t hear us.  And the show is so involved for such a short show that there are still transitions that we, the cast, don’t quite have in our bodies yet.  But the audience seemed to really enjoy it, despite several kinks.  They were really warm and enthusiastic.  You could really feel them listening which is always interesting.  And very different from a bored audience.  They fidget and rustle things.

Anyway, so opening day, we had our last rehearsal in the afternoon.  It was our last chance to fine tune bits, clarify choreography, specify entrances, etc.   As I believe I said in an earlier blog (I think), we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked so we had a lot to do in not that long a time.  But the whole cast worked their asses off for the whole rehearsal period and I’m so proud of everyone and the show we created.  No matter what the critics may say.  This is an amazing group of people and a fascinating, theatrical piece and I applaud Mitchell Marcus for doing these interesting and off-the-beaten-path pieces that other companies seem to be too afraid to do – for whatever reason.

So the actual opening went well.  I won’t lie, the cast was nervous.  We all felt we could have done with about 3 more previews but in all honesty, you always want more previews.   But the response through the show was pretty great.  People really seemed to be listening and reacting and getting things; they seemed to be on the ride.  Now, personally, I didn’t have the greatest show.  I had a heavy dose of the evil voices in my head that tell me horrible things – “you can’t act”, “that choice was terrible”, “why did you say that line like that?”, “I think this shirt smells bad”, “that move was cheesy”, “this isn’t the best sing for you”.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been inundated with those voices but there I was.   I did my best to tell them to shut up and just be in my scenes but it was tough tonight.  I really just wanted to be there for the incredible Steven Gallagher who has to climb Mount Olympus every show – I wanted to be there to support him and ground him if/when he was feeling like it was all a bit too much.  I’m hoping that kept me grounded enough to get me through.  But it was weird, y’all.  You’d think after 25 years of performing  (yes, 25 years), I would have gotten past those off moments.  I think all actors are plagued by those voices from time to time.   But over time, you hopefully gain skills that get you through.   Hmmmm   don’t know.  All I know is that now I’m, at least, able to show up and try again and that counts for something . . . doesn’t it?

Anyway, at the end of the show . . . . . . . okay, I need to be careful here.  hahahaha   The last time I talked about an audience jumping to their feet, I almost started a blog bitch-slap-a-thon between Kelly Nestruck, reviewer for the Globe and Mail  (who I must say, I enjoy a great deal – Hi, Kelly, if you still read my blog) and Morris Panych, playwright and director (who I also enjoy a lot).   But I’ll say this and hopefully not misrepresent it – several members of the audience rose immediately and a good many were not far behind; within a few moments, most of the house was on it’s feet.  There may have been some people still sitting but I couldn’t see them.  We did two curtain calls and in all fairnes and with no exaggeration, they continued clapping for so long we could have done one more but decided to not milk it.  There was a pretty amazing feeling coming from the crowd and from the faces in the crowd.  I was quite touched.  I’m not sure what it is about Finn’s pieces that seem to really get to people but there it is.

As always, one can’t know what critics have to say or where they are emotionally when they see a show but we can’t really let that rule our world.  All we can do is try to make a connection with a piece; to reach out and find some truth for that whole room full of people to connect to.   And even though I wasn’t pleased with my own performance, I was really proud to be in a production that was, at least, striving to be something that has something to say.  That can be hard to find sometimes.

Okay that last bit sounds all high-falutin’.  I think I’m tired.  It’s now 3:18.  It’s time to go to sleep.

Oh, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, everyone.

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 8:29 am  Comments (6)  

UPDATES AND NEWS

So many things, my friends.

Okay, so first of all, A New Brain.  We had our sitzprobe yesterday.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, a sitzprobe is when the actors sit/stand and sing the music with the orchestra/band for the first time.  It’s always very exciting. There are only three musicians on this show but what Wayne Gwillim did in his re-orchestrations is amazing.    It’s going to sound great.  It’s amazing what can be done with a keyboard and fancy sound box ( I can’t, for the life of me, remember what its called but it’s this amazing box that Wayne programs and then he presses a pedal and the whole sound of the keyboard changes – awesome)

We go into 12 hour tech rehearsal days today and tomorrow.  Eek.  But it will be really great to get on the set and play around.  We had our first run-through on Saturday before our day off and it was great to see the whole thing put together.  Holy Doodle, a lot of shit happens in this show, and in a very short time.  I don’t really know what to compare it to.  I think/hope audiences will like it.  There is a lot to like, if only the performances.   But, again, I have to say, Steven Gallagher should never NOT be working.  He is an absolute marvel.  He flips from comedy to heart-break like he’s switching on a light.  And totally committed to every moment.  He’s quite extraordinary.   I hope he gets the accolades he deserves for this.    We’re having a great time.  I still don’t feel like I’ve arrived as Roger (my character), but we have a few more days.  I hope he’ll really drop in.

For those of you who’re planning to attend, word is it’s starting to sell really well so don’t wait.   Seriously, this isn’t that bullshit statement to “rope you in”, it’s probably going to sell really well.  Dont want y’all to miss it.  And not just for me, I’m not the meat and potatoes of the show.  I’m the “gravy” in this theatrical meal – something warm, brown, and rich that mellows everything out.  Wow, that was a bit of a dirty analogy.  . . . . meh, I’ll let it stand.

Other news.  Did the benefit for Alliance Hospice last night.  It was really a good time.   I love doing benefits.  They are always for a good cause and people are so ready to enjoy themselves.  I was one of 4 soloists.  Frank Ruffo , Stephanie Martin, and Heather Bambrick were the others.  Each one fantastic.  I’ve known Frank for years and he’s like your favourite uncle who can actually perform.  Really old-school Sinatra feel.  And Stephanie I’ve discovered in the last five years.  A beautiful singer/songwriter with a really great voice and folky/pop-y sound with a hint of R&B.

http://www.stephaniemartin.ca/

The person I didn’t know was Heather Bambrick – Oh my God, funny and awesome warm jazz voice.  She was spectacular.

http://www.heatherbambrick.com/

The crowd really loved it, which was great.  And I even sold a bunch of CD’s which was also sweet.

Okay – off topic.  As I’m writing this, the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show is on TV.  Did you ever notice how often Bugs is in drag???? Just sayin’.

There’s something else I was going to mention . . . .

Oh yeah right.  There is going to be a fantastic cabaret at Buddies In Bad Times on March 9.  Hosted by my buddy, the divine Sharron Matthews, it’s a fundraiser for Buddies with a great line-up of people from the theatre world.  I include the ad.  It’s called Sing Out, Louise (for those of you who don’t know, that’s a famous line from the famous musical GYPSY)  If you can make it, it won’t be disappointing.  And yes, I will be one of the performers.  What will I do, will I be funny?  Will I be touching?  Will I be naked?  (Okay probably not but I had to put it out there)

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Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

FUNDRAISER CONCERT

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Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

A NEW BRAIN REHEARSALS MID-POINT

anewbraineflyerYou guys, I feel so  . . . . hmmm  what do I say?  Blessed, and I don’t mean that in a religious way.  I feel like The Drowsy Chaperone was such a gift and now A New Brain is another gift but completely different.  I’m the “straight man” in this show.  Aldolpho (in Chaperone) was insane and so over the top and as Roger (in Brain), I’m so subdued.  It’s a really fantastic contrast to my time in Vancouver.    I’m the emotional rock of this piece.  It’s nice.   I get to sing these extraordinary songs (one of which is one of the most well-known in the score – SAILING) and be a support for the wonderful Steven Gallagher.  He is playing the lead, Gordon.  People, if you don’t know him, you should.  He is one of my favourite performers.  So committed, so open, so hard-working and so joyful.   Not to mention talented as hell.  I play his lover and I think that, because we have such a great rapport as friends, we are able to go right to finding the core and heart of the relationship of these two men.  As soon as I heard that Mitchell Marcus (the producing dynamo behind Acting Upstage) was doing the show, I knew that Steven was the perfect person for the part and he has not let anyone down.  Come see the show just for him alone.

But if he wasn’t enough (and I guarantee it, he is) the rest of the cast is fantastic.  Again, I can’t believe I’ve gotten to work with two fantastic, extraordinarily talented casts in a row.  Barbara Barsky as Gordon’s mother is so right for this part.  She just gets it and I haven’t even seen a lot of her big numbers yet but she already had us in tears (both of laughter and heart-break) with two lines.  Juan Chioran should just be given the Dora already as Mr. Bungee, Gordon’s boss – F U N N Y ! ! !   Patricia Zentilli is quirky and sweet and fierce and complicated as Rhoda, Gordon’s friend and agent.  Steve Ross, the unbelievable Steve Ross, as Richard the nurse,  is funny, interesting, yearning, sad, joyous.  Paula Wolfson who’s playing Lisa, the homeless lady, sang through her big solo for the first time and I was forced to throw my shoe at her (the North American black people sign for “you betta sing, bee-atch!”).  AM-OW-ZING!!   Plus the fresh on the scene Parris Greaves, Jonathan Tan, and Allie Hughes – all of whom are wonderful and ready to explode onto the scene.  Kick-ass, y’all.

And I just have to say that Darryl Cloran, our director, is a jewel.  Truly.  He came in knowing what this show was about, what he wanted to do, how we all connected, who we all are in the scenes, what the arc of the show is.  But at the same time, totally open to what we had to say and offer.  It’s been a complete joy.

I’m not in a lot of the choreographed numbers but the ones I’m in, are looking so great.  It’s a pleasure to watch Marc Kimelman, our choreographer do his thing.  He’s young and vibrant and has beautiful and fun ideas and is not afraid to go “no, that  doesn’t work, let’s scrap that and do this instead”.  I totally respect that.  It’s all about what is right for the show and for the moment and he seems totally on board.  And the rest of the cast who are in the bigger numbers (which I haven’t seen yet) have said they are fantastic so I eagerly await.

Anyway, I feel like I’m gushing . . . . oh wait, I guess I am.  But those of you who know me know and as I’ve said before – I won’t bullshit you.  I may not always tell you the whole truth (as I’ve said, I don’t need to hurt or offend anyone cruelly) but I will always try to be as honest as I can about what I do say in my blog.  Promise.

So I say this, come and see this show.  Not because I’m in it. . . . well, not JUST because I’m in it.  But because it’s a really cool, fascinating, bizarre show with and amazing cast, great design, exciting creative team and a really touching story – with lots of laughs.    Now, having said that, it could all be shitty in the end . . . but I don’t think it will be.

http://actingupstage.com/anewbrain/

Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 4:11 am  Leave a Comment